Hollywood Dreamin’

Girl Scout Senior, Patricia Smith is no stranger to travel. Her mother and leader, Arjean Smith is in the Army and the Smith family has been stationed all around the world. Patricia originally joined Girl Scouts in Virginia, they then moved to Germany where she was part of a Girl Scouts on-base program. While there, Patricia and Arjean traveled to London to visit Pax Lodge, and made three trips to Our Chalet in Switzerland!

“It’s a new experience to go different places and see how people do things differently. It’s also cool to meet new people,” Patricia explained.
The Smiths’ moved back to Fort Leavenworth in the summer of 2016 and Patricia has stayed involved in as an Indy Girl Scout.
With a love of travel instilled in her, Patricia researched ways she could continue to see the world as a Girl Scout, and ultimately decided she wanted to go on a Girl Scout destination to Hollywood and learn about filmmaking. Over the past two years, she set goals for her cookie business and earned enough money to pay for the trip herself!

On July 1, Patricia boarded a plane in KC and took her first solo flight to Los Angeles, CA where she met up with 15 other Girl Scouts from around the country for their Hollywood Dreamin’ Destination!

Her trip started out with tours of production studios and the city of Los Angeles. At Warner Bros Studio, they learned how sets and scenes work and saw that some shows actually share set pieces. One of the highlights for Patricia was seeing the Fuller House set and seeing some of the props being constructed for a future episode.

“When I’m seeing all this, I’m like oh my gosh! I’m kind of star struck!”


After learning about the industry as a whole, Patricia got to work in a small group to write, direct, produce and edit a short film of their own! They even hired and paid actors from the budget they were given. “Union actors cost more. Non-union actors are cheaper but they haven’t been in as much stuff.”

They had a few prompts to choose from for their concept, and Patricia’s group chose to create a film about what happens when two people are stuck in an airport together. The film itself couldn’t be more than four minutes long or use more than two actors.

“What surprised me was the emotion that the actors gave us. I didn’t think they would be so emotional in their role,” she explained. “Also there are more angles than what you see in the film. Shots are harder to get than what you would think!”

This destination gave Patricia a glimpse into what career in the film industry would be like and it’s now a career path she’s interested in!
“It was definitely something different because I didn’t go out of the country. We had downtime compared to other trips I’ve been on and we got to get to know each other, and had a lot of fun times!”

2019-2020 Girl Scout destination programs are being added through September. Check them out and submit your application to our council by Nov. 15 to be included in the first round of consideration!

Wildlife, Geysers & Mountains: An Unforgettable Adventure between Sisters

Jump aboard for an unforgettable adventure trip shared between two sisters! Miranda and Emily Nitz from Olathe, Kansas recently partook in a life-changing Destination trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park with other Girl Scout sisters from all over the United States.

“Girl Scouts really prepared me for camping; all of my interest for the outdoors started with my troop,” Miranda said.  Emily agreed that the large undertaking of Yellowstone was mostly possible because she felt confident in the outdoors. These Girl Scouts were more than ready to put their risk-taker skills into action!

From resident camps and planning day camps to past family excursions, these Miranda and Emily were looking for something completely out of the ordinary.  Having already been to Yellowstone before, this time around the girls were really able to be one with nature and got to enjoy the challenge of camping for a whole week.

“At the very beginning, we were ready to get rid of our cell phones for a week, being disconnected felt natural, actually, it really helped us enjoy trip,” Miranda said.

Although both sisters admit to being a little nervous at the start because they did not know anyone, after the first night they were ready to start new adventures with new friends.  “I realized that all the girls there were accepting and had the same Girl Scout values.  Even though the other girls came with friends, I felt very welcome,” Emily said.

The Girl Scout Destination trip was guided by the field instructors of Teton Science Schools.  The counselors taught the girls how to practice naturalist skills and give back through service with other Girl Scouts from across the nation.

“The counselors were SO cool!  They were each graduate students that brought forward their knowledge to our camp before they graduated,” the Nitz sisters said.

The nightly programs would help prepare the 25 Girl Scouts about everything they would need to do during their day excursions: packing a hiking bag, setting up camp, and even how to use bear spray!

“I was really nervous I was going to wake up at night and hear a bear next to me, so I was really glad to have bear spray, even though I didn’t have to use it,” Miranda said.

Emily and Miranda were all smiles when reflecting back on their day excursions.  “Every single day was packed with something unique and different, but the counselors made all the activities easy and fun- our hike, for example, was only a mile long, but we felt fully prepared and packed for anything, like, you get dehydrated a lot easier so we had to pack more water that I was used to and we were so glad we brought rain coats!” Miranda noted.

They had half a day of hiking and half a day of canoeing in String Lake.  Then Emily joined in, “it was so cool to see a different landscape than Kansas; there weren’t small hills but large mountains that were much harder to hike and when you canoed, the water was completely clear from the mountain springs, it was cold but worth it!”

The next day the girls set out early for a wildlife day.  Seeing native Yellowstone animals like bison, buffalo, bald eagles, elk and bears were definitely a major highlight for both of them.  Miranda laughed, “It was crazy seeing elk so close to our cabin we’d never been so close before!”

Miranda and Emily had quite a bit of driving to do on their trip to make sure they saw all of the landmarks: Old Faithful, Dragon’s Mouth and mud spots.  Emily remembered that “[The muds spots] smelled like rotten eggs, kind of.  So every day when we smelled eggs for breakfast I remembered that!”

The last day in Yellowstone was dedicated to service.  The girls had the unique experience to give back by making much needed repairs on The Murie Ranch that needed some love!  “what made service project so cool,” Miranda said, “is that the Murie Family founded the Teton Science School, which is who supported a large part of our trip.  We definitely got lucky being able to make such a large impact like fixing a trail!”

The Destinations program most definitely gave these girls the travel bug!  Emily has future plans to visit Savannah, Georgia with her troop.  She is also excited for the 2019 Belize trip.  Miranda is already excited for another trip and loves planning day camp for her service unit.  She is ready to start planning her troop’s trip to Europe soon.

When reflecting, Emily noted that, “the coolest thing about this trip is that all of us girls talk still every day and we really want to plan another Destination trip together!”  Being split up during the trip ended up being one of the biggest learning lessons for them both; making new friends is a corner stone of what Girl Scouts is all about.  This trip allowed these girls to step out of their comfort zone to come together to learn about STEM, and further their outdoor knowledge.  Way to go, girls!

Learn more about Girl Scout Destination travel today to find new ways to enhance your Girl Scout summer!

 

Riding into Adventure and Sisterhood!

Adventuring for friendship and education! A Girl Scout Destination lets a girl explore the world, find herself and meet new friends like no other experience. For Girl Scout Seniors Alyssa Carney (Olathe, KS), Abby Riebel (Iola, KS) and Lilli Smith (Prairie Village, KS) who attended an awesome Destination to Nebraska for two weeks of horseback riding became the learning adventure of a lifetime. These girls went on the “Manes, Cranes and Preserving the Plains” Destination in Nebraska in July 2017 and came back with a deep appreciation for nature conservation and A LOT of new Girl Scout sisters.

 

The 14 day adventure included horseback riding across the Nebraska landscape, visiting a zoo and learning about ecology from experts. On riding days, the girls would wake-up, ride horses, have a lunch and free time, enjoy dinner together, then ride back and race for the showers! While on the trail, they saw some beautiful expanses and breath-taking sights. “You’d ride up an ascent…and see the most amazing views. Most people think Kansas and Nebraska are just flat, but they’re not all flat…and at the top of some of those hills, you experience incredible views,” Abby Riebel said.

For the most part, embarking on a Girl Scout Destination is a completely solo experience. For Lilli, it was, she knew no one leaving for the trip. Abby and Alyssa, however, were best friends and took the adventure together. “When Alyssa asked me to go with her, I said ‘best friends, horses and more girls to hang out with?  WHY NOT?!” Abby said.

Left: Abby and Alyssa in Nebraska; Right: Alyssa gearing up for a day of riding.

All three girls left with friendships that span the entire country once they met the 14 other girls on the trip. “I met my friend Rachel, who lives in New Jersey, on the Destination. It’s cool to say ‘oh, I’m texting my friend in New Jersey’ when my friends here ask who I’m talking to!”  Lilli Smith said.

Alyssa remembers bonding with several girls on the trip when they stopped along a river to share and learn about each other. “We sat there on our horses and talked about what we learned and what we liked about each other. I wrote a speech about our adventures and the friendships we made in a short amount of time…it was emotional,” Alyssa Carney said.  Just the thought of strong G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM getting to share an amazing moment out in nature makes US emotional! Wow, what an experience.

Left & Right: Riding along the trail with the girls; Center: Lilli with new Girl Scout sisters!

For each girl, the Destination provided a learning experience that extended beyond traditional learning about the environment or horses…girls learned about trust, friendship and self-confidence.

Alyssa: “I learned how to ask for help on this trip. I was recovering from surgery, so my stamina wasn’t where I wanted it to be and I needed help lifting my saddle. I’m someone who gives it her all, but sometimes you have to have others help you…and I learned that it’s okay.”

Abby: “When you push yourself out of your comfort zone and spend time away from family for two weeks, it makes you realize how much you love your family and that you shouldn’t take them for granted. You also experience some amazing stuff when you push yourself and trust yourself.”

Lilli: “Living in such close quarters with 16 girls you don’t know really teaches you to learn to share and learn to handle different personalities. Plus I learned a lot about the Nebraska landscape and water systems.”

 

The Girl Scouts of “Manes, Cranes and Preserving the Plains” 2017!

A Girl Scout Destination is one of the best ways for a girl to push her limits, learn about something she’s passionate and meet new friends. We’re thrilled that THREE Girl Scouts from our council got to take this awesome adventure and make friendships that are still thriving today. If you’re interested in learning about taking your own Destination, visit Girl Scout Travel today!

A Horse Trip of a Lifetime

Spotlight on Girl Scout Cadette Kylee F.

For Girl Scouts who are go-getters, love adventure, want to explore the world around them and make new friends – Girl Scout Destinations is where it’s at!

This summer Girl Scout Cadette Kylee F. spent a week in the Rocky Mountains with Girl Scouts of Colorado on the Colorado Horseback Adventure – considered the horse trip of a lifetime! She flew into Denver International Airport and spent the day at a Girl Scout Camp in Woodland Park, CO where she got to zipline, shoot archery and participate in some low ropes activities getting to know others on her Destination!

The group then traveled to Bear Basin Ranch in Westcliffe, CO where their days were full of trail rides, white water rafting and rustic cowgirl camp outs! The Destination culminated with an overnight horse pack trip in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range 12,000 feet above sea level!

“I really like horses and I wanted to travel somewhere else. I looked into it during the school year and [Colorado Horseback Adventure] looked the most fun so I chose that one! I really wanted to go on [a Destination] to explore new places.”

Studies have shown that Girl Scouts are more likely than non–Girl Scouts to practice goal setting, problem solving, risk taking, and leadership—key skills for the 21st century. Through Girl Scouting, girls realize their leadership potential through a variety of experiences, skill-building opportunities, and connections.

This Destination experience was something that Kylee worked really hard for. It took financial goal setting and preparation to make this trip a reality. Kylee used her Destination to help market her babysitting business, applied for (and received!) a scholarship through Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri and more money earning activities. By the time Kylee returned from Colorado, she had met her goal of funding her trip!

In fact, while waiting to board her plane home, an older woman engaged in conversation with Kylee about her experience in Colorado. Through conversation, the woman shared that she had owned horses in the past. And this wonderfully kind woman made a gift toward Kylee’s trip as well.

Being a Girl Scout not only helped Kylee prepare for the trip financially, but mentally and physically as well. Going to Colorado she already knew first aid, how to pack, put up a tent and build a fire. But most notably Kylee credits Girl Scouts with giving her the skills to make new friends and carry conversations with people she’s never met before.

“Destinations help you get out of your house and off your technology to see what’s actually out there. I would recommend this adventure to all Girl Scouts so they can experience adventures that they may not be able to normally,” Kylee said!

The second round of Girl Scout Destination applications are due Feb. 15. Where will you #TravelLikeaGirlScout?!

 

Travel Like a Girl Scout

Travel. Something Girl Scout Senior Amanda M. is incredibly passionate about. She’s been on three Girl Scout Destination trips since she was old enough to apply. Space Camp in Huntsville, AL in 2015,
Leadership in the Andes in Peru in 2016 and STEM: Energy Solutions in Germany in 2017; a progression of location, skills and experience in true Girl Scout fashion.

Left: Taking the view in at Neuschwanstein Castle. Center: Amanda at Our Chalet. Right: Enjoying the Girl Scout energy at Our Chalet!

Over the course of 13 days this summer, Amanda, along with 15 other Girl Scouts from around the United States traveled throughout Germany and Switzerland learning about sustainable and renewable energy and global energy policies.

“I’ve always know that I wanted to work with sustainable energy, something that’s good for the environment. I knew this Destination would further my knowledge and passion and give me real life experiences that weren’t just isolated in the United States,” Amanda said.

This Destination, like her others, was an eye-opening experience for Amanda.

Before they left the country, the group of 16 Girl Scouts spent two days in Boston getting to know each other and learning about sustainable energy in the United States so they would understand the differences when they were learning Germany and Switzerland. One perspective they gained was how other countries value their energy sources more than the United States because unlike the United States, they’ve experienced a loss of them. As a young country, the United States just can’t relate in that way.

 

Left: Turbines at a power plant in Germany. Center: Wind turbine in Switzerland. Right: Green living project.

This Girl Scout Destination experience, like her others, diversify her learning and expand her studies outside of school.

“Destinations are a great outlet for girls to not only extend their education, but extend themselves as people,” Amanda explained. “You can take a girl and give her Google, or give her a ticket to go to Peru or Germany and the education is completely different. My generation wants to just watch things on YouTube; stepping outside of their comfort zone will give them life. It’s an impact that is completely unfathomable.”

This Destination had a significant impact on Amanda as a Girl Scout as well. While in Switzerland they had the opportunity to visit one of the World Centers, Our Chalet in Adelboden. As if they hadn’t bonded as Girl Scouts already, they were once again reminded of the national and global Movement they all belong to. While at Our Chalet they met British Girl Guides and Amanda describes the bond as almost instant.

Amanda’s Destination group at Our Chalet.

As recognition of her passion for travel and education through Girl Scout Destinations, Amanda was nominated as Girl Scout of the year by EF Girl Scouts, the travel partner of Girl Scouts of the USA. As part of her nomination, she had to write about her Destination experiences.

Standing below a towering windmill you take a deep breath of air and look out across the valley.  Chalets sprinkled across the hillside open their windows to welcome in the fresh summer air.  Some people don’t understand just how essential travel is to developing one’s self.  To me, travel is important because it affords me the opportunity to experience other cultures in a way that I would not be able to inside of a classroom.  The life lessons you can learn just by getting on an airplane and walking around a plaza in Peru, or a museum in Germany, or a Koi pond in Japan can never be replicated.  So I encourage you to travel.  See things like you have never seen before, live life through a lens of curiosity.

 These experiences can be even more impactful when going on a trip with a group of strangers. After just a few days of friendship you will start to feel like you have known your new acquaintances for your whole life.  As a group of Girl Scouts I developed deep ever-lasting bonds with young women from all areas of the United States.  While touring Our Chalet in Switzerland my American group met British Girl Guides, and the bond was almost instant.  Within minutes we were singing songs, shared social media handles, and told stories of our experiences as Scouts. Whether visiting abroad or within the borders, meeting a group of Girl Scouts is like finding long lost sisters, and the adults, parents.  The experience I received on the trip helped to form my world view, and I hope that you will love it as much as I did.

Amanda is truly a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) when it comes to travel!

Applications are now open for 2018 Girl Scout Destinations and the first deadline to apply with preferential placing is November 15. Don’t wait, plan your trip to #travellikeagirlscout!

Total Solar Eclipse of the Girl Scout Heart

August 21, 2017 the date of the first total solar eclipse to be visible in the continental United States in 99 years. It was hyped up to be a natural phenomenon, one that had everyone preparing and planning for the day well in advance of the actual eclipse. According to four of our Girl Scouts who experienced totality while on a Girl Scout destination, it far exceeded the hype!

Girl Scout Cadettes Ashleigh Beabout from Gardner KS and Belle Reed from Blue Springs made the trip to Total Eclipse of the Heartland in Carbondale, IL for Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois’ five day destination. They stayed at council property but ventured into St. Louis, MO for some unique learning opportunities then watched the eclipse on the football field at Southern Illinois University.

Left: Belle waiting to see the shadowbands on the white tarp. Center: Ashleigh with her Girl Scout sisters and NASA staff. Right: Ashleigh waiting to see the shadowbands on the tarp.

The second destination location was in Columbia, MO with Girl Scouts of Missouri Heartland (GSMH). Katie Blankenship from Gardner, KS and Emilie Sula-Goff from Lee’s Summit spent 3 days learning about astronomy, touring the University of Missouri and experiencing total solar eclipse at GSMH’s Silver Meadows Program Center with their families!

All four girls were extremely interested in astronomy going into their destination. Katie has talked with an astronaut in outer space and Emilie is fascinated with supernovas! But, an eclipse was something entirely new to them since there had yet to be one in the United States during their lifetime.

“I didn’t know what to expect because nobody here has experienced it before,” Ashleigh said.

This natural phenomena united adults and children, scientists and educators and the entire country. It was an experience that can truly be once in a lifetime. For Emilie her eclipse destination reunited her with her Girl Scout sister Alexandria who lives in California, where Emilie is originally from.

They had been waiting for the time when they were old enough and could agree on a location and apply together. The Great Eclipse Adventure with GSHM was the perfect fit for these astronomy and mythology loving Girl Scouts.

“It was so neat that they got to go on this destination together; then I got to bring their brothers and experience the actual eclipse with them.” Emilie’s mother, Erin said.

Left: Emilie (far right) with Alexandria and other Girl Scout sisters. Center: Katie & Becky Blankenship. Right: Emilie, Alexandria and their brothers during the eclipse.

While the total eclipse itself was only about 2 minutes, it left a lasting impression on each of them.

“I felt very lucky that I got to experience this at age 11 when other people don’t get to experience their entire life,” Belle said.

There are so many environmental factors that play into a person actually being able to see a total solar eclipse, which is why they’re considered to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, while it’s been 99 years since the United States saw a total solar eclipse, it’ll only be 7 more years until we experience it again and these Girl Scouts are already thinking about where and how they’ll see it…when most of them are seniors in High School.

Girl Scouts of the USA is rolling out their destination programs for the 2017-2018 year. To have an experience like Katie, Emilie, Ashleigh and Belle, check out the GSUSA Destination page. The first deadline to apply is in November!

Taking a Risk and Finding Your Passion

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Evelyn Peat’s Girl Scout Destination to Rock-N-Wilderness

With dozens upon dozens of Girl Scout Destinations to choose from, there is trip for every Girl Scout.

If she wants to be a go-getter, honing her photography skills while hiking through a national park, she can.

If she wants to discover more about herself as a leader while backpacking through Peru with a pack of llamas, she can.

If she wants to be a risk-taker, canoeing through the boundary waters, she can.

Evelyn Peat did.

Evelyn is a Girl Scout Senior and one of five girls in troop 3394 out of Topeka, KS. Just like any other troop, #3394 is girl-led. They choose what activities they will do each year, together. But, one of the great things about being a Girl Scout is that you can also do things outside of your troop that have particular interest to you – like a Girl Scout Destination!

You see, Evelyn loves the outdoors – camping, exploring and taking risks as a Girl Scout. So when her mom told her about a trip called Rock-N-Wilderness that would take her up to Minnesota to canoe through the various lakes that make up the Boundary Waters and through Canada, she was sold.

Through her experiences on Lake Odonata at Camp Daisy Hindman, Evelyn knew that she liked canoeing and that she wanted to do more of it!

Her Destination started out at a Girl Scout Camp in Duluth, MN where she was put into a group with six other Girl Scouts from around the country and two guides. The first two days they did team building exercises and learned the ins and outs of canoeing. They also did a small kayaking expedition, something Evelyn had never done before!

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For the next seven days, Evelyn and her group canoed over 50 miles through Minnesota into Canada and back, camping and cooking their meals along the way. During those seven days Evelyn learned more about herself as a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk taker and leader.)™

“I really liked the since of accomplishment I felt each day. I learned that I can always push myself to go farther; even if I think I can’t,” Evelyn said.

 

Throughout the trip their guides were constantly monitoring the weather, determining the best time for the group to be out on the water, completing their trek. This meant that some days they canoed in the early mornings, some in the afternoons and once, during the night! They were prepared for whatever they might encounter and had supplies and food packed for those seven days in the wilderness.

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There are three roles in a canoe – the bow (front), the stern (back) and princess (middle). The guides quickly realized that Evelyn was an excellent bow and often looked to her to navigate the choppy waters, not only for her own canoe, but for the entire group.

While out on the Boundary Waters, something really special happened to Evelyn. She crossed paths with her brother who happened to be on a Boy Scout expedition himself!

At the conclusion of her destination, Evelyn met back up with her family for a mini-vacation in Minnesota while they waited for her brother’s expedition to conclude. During that time she convinced her family to go kayaking out on Lake Superior!

Since she has returned, her passion for canoeing and kayaking has remained steady. The Peat family has been out to Eisenhower State Park where they can rent canoes and kayaks by the hour. Other families have joined in on these outings and Evelyn has been teaching others how to properly and safely be out on the water!

She’s even taught her 10-year old brother how to canoe!

Melissa Peat, Evelyn’s mom, sees a difference in Evelyn since she’s returned. “I’ve realized how much more confidence she has and she is communicating better,” Melissa explained. “When we have gone out kayaking and canoeing with friends, she is a leader and teaches people what to do!”

Thanks to Girl Scouts, Evelyn took risks and discovered a new passion that she is now sharing with those all around her!

November 15 is the first application deadline for 2017 Girl Scout Destinations! Where will you travel as a G.I.R.L (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?

Leadership in the Andes

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Girl Scout Senior Amanda M. is no stranger to travel. As a freshman in high school, her passport already dons more stamps than many grown adults. This summer, she added Peru to that stamp collection when she traveled with Girl Scout destinations on a Leadership in the Andes trip!

For 12 days, Amanda was fully immersed in the Peruvian culture with 15 other Girl Scouts from all over the United States.

The leadership skill building aspect of this trip is what really caught her attention – and the fact that it was in the mountains of a foreign country. “I knew I wanted to do another destination [after Space Camp last year]. I wanted to expand my boundaries and further myself,” Amanda explained. “I thought this would be a cool experience; you’re out of the county and you have to lead yourself and other girls!”

And what a cool experience Amanda had.

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Her and the group toured cathedrals, an alpaca farm, salt mines, Sacred Valley, volunteered at an orphanage and visited Machu Picchu; but, the bulk of the trip was a four-day, 20 mile backpacking trek through the Andes Mountains.

To prepare herself for the physical aspects of her destination, Amanda speed hiked with 15 lbs. in her backpack in her neighborhood every day. Her mom, Terri jokes that the neighbors started to wonder if she was practicing running away!

Amanda and the group hiked the Lares Trek, a more difficult path than the famous Inca trail. Each girl was responsible for carrying a day pack that held items they wanted immediately available to them, while over 20 llamas carried all their camping gear! They camped at various sites each night and had guides that would setup the campsites and cook dinner for the group. “We had a lot of freedom to search and explore,” Amanda said. Over the course of four days, they climbed from 9,000 feet to over 15,000 and even got a clear view of the Milky Way one night.

“It was hard work but it was so worth it!” Amanda said.

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A lot of the leadership development for the Girl Scouts happened during the trek. “I learned that while that I’m a very rough and tough person, that I’m not really that rough and tough,” Amanda explained. “I have limits and I have to accept that. It’s hard to be able to ask for help and say that you need a break, when you think you’re putting your pride on the line but you have to see your limits, accept them and love yourself for who you are.”

The pinnacle of the trip for Amanda was her visit to Machu Picchu. The group spent nearly six hours touring the ancient ruins and soaking up every bit of information the guides gave them.  One of the things they learned was that unfortunately Machu Picchu won’t last forever. First, because its sits on a fault line and second because of all the foot traffic. While there is some regulation of visitors, they’re not always followed or enforced.

Amanda was particularly fascinated with the tourism industry in Peru and had the opportunity to speak Spanish and converse with older girls at the orphanage they visited about it.

“The positive is that tourism improves their economy, the negative is that they’re losing some of their culture because of the tourism,” Amanda said.

Their guides taught them about sustainable tourism and what to look for in items they were purchasing. She learned how to tell the difference between foreign items and those which were locally sourced and produced in Peru. Amanda made it her mission to only purchase these sustainable items and came home with sweaters, socks, ponchos and more for her family!

She even bought every girl on the trip a friendship bracelet and wrote them a letter at the end of the trip. “I had a personal bond with every single girl in the group, even the leaders; I thought that was so cool.”

Every Girl Scout on the destination wrote a word that described Amanda on her flag.

Every Girl Scout on the destination wrote a word that described Amanda on her flag.

Amanda’s experience in Peru expanded her horizons and she realized that a major part of being a leader has to do with being true to yourself. “The leadership development they did with us was a lot more on the emotional side of things and how you feel.  You have to love yourself to ultimately lead others.”

Is your Girl Scout interested in an experience like Amanda’s? The first deadline to apply for a Girl Scout destination trip is Nov. 15! Domestic trips begin at the Junior level and international travel opportunities are available to Girl Scout Cadettes and older – find out more!

Blast off to Space Academy

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A Girl Scout Travel Spotlight: Rebecca Hoff

It’s no secret that Girl Scouting provides girls with opportunities of a lifetime. This is something that Amanda M. communicated at her service unit meeting when talking about her Girl Scout destination experience at the Space Academy in Huntsville, AL.

Lucky for Rebecca Hoff, her mom (and troop leader) was at that meeting. Like Amanda, Rebecca is a Girl Scout Cadette and is always on the lookout for new experiences. So after hearing Amanda speak, Trish knew that a trip like Amanda’s was just up Rebecca’s alley.

After doing some research on all the destination options for Rebecca, they both decided that the Space Academy was the perfect first trip to take.

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When Rebecca arrived at Space Camp, she didn’t know a single soul, but knew everyone at the same time – she was one of 84 other Girl Scouts from around the world!

Girls were split into small groups and Rebecca was assigned to team Ariel, with 14 other Girl Scouts. Throughout the week they learned to work together to accomplish tasks and complete missions. These missions were Rebecca’s favorite part of the experience. “It was so realistic – if you messed up, it actually mattered.”

For each mission the team was equipped with a book – kind of like a play. Each girl was assigned a role and was given lines to say. It was up to them to go through their lines and execute specific tasks; each task impacting those of another crew member.

For their first mission, Rebecca’s role was in mission control and she had to make sure that the people in the rocket ship had enough oxygen as well as survey the weather conditions of their landing spot. This was the only mission that her team performed without any incidents!

Their other missions included a task where Rebecca was strapped into a space suit to complete jobs that mimic those of real astronauts and one where she had to transfer ships in space and board a replica of the International Space Station!

In addition to the missions, Rebecca got to hear from astronauts, Jan Davis (female astronaut) and Jerry Ross (the record holder for the most space walks), participate in anti-gravity activities and go through several team building exercises! “I learned that if you’re going to be a leader, you have to lead but you have to give people the opportunity to express their ideas – it was challenging to get all 15 girls to agree!”

With all the fun Rebecca had, you wouldn’t have known that this was her first real trip away from home.

“Before she went she was very concerned about not knowing anyone there, it was a very big concern.” Trish explained. “Now I think she’ll be less apprehensive about doing something where she doesn’t know anyone.”

Not only did Rebecca come home with a new knowledge of all things space, she also came home with a ton of new Girl Scout friends!

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Left: Team Ariel; Right: Rebecca working on a mission.

“It was an amazing experience. I don’t think I would have that opportunity to do this had it not been for Girl Scouts,” Rebecca said.

Rebecca’s story is the first in a series of Girl Scout destination stories we’ll be bringing you throughout the summer as our other four Girl Scouts return from adventures in the Andes Mountains and Costa Rica, just to name a few!

Girl Scout destinations is a program from GSUSA and trips are being added to their website year-round. Is there a destination location that inspires you to get out of your comfort zone and learn something new?!

A Destination Perfect for a Horse Enthusiast

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When you grow up with horses and compete in horse competitions, it takes a special program to impress an elite equestrian.

Kellie Holm is a Girl Scout Senior and is an equestrian enthusiast, horseback riding since she was just 18 months old.  Her first horse was a gift from her aunt, and Kellie has been competing ever since. Kellie was so advanced for her age that competitions asked her to move from the youth division to the adult one. The first time she moved up, she took third place, at the ripe age of 7.

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So, when Kellie’s mom (and troop leader) came home with information on a destination that was equestrian- focused, Kellie wasn’t instantly sold.

However, Kellie wanted to participate in a Girl Scout destination. She is a well-versed traveler and was looking for a new experience through Girl Scouts, so she decided to go ahead and register for the Happy Trails destination at Camp Misty Mountain in Arumchee, Georgia.

Kellie flew into Atlanta and made the 2 hour trip north with staff from Misty Mountain (a Girl Scout Camp in the Greater Atlanta Council). Upon her arrival she met the 22 other Girl Scouts from all over the country that she would be riding with for the next week.

On the first full day of the destination, the equestrian staff met with each Girl Scout individually to assess their skill level. Naturally, Kellie was the most experienced rider at camp, but she wasn’t alone. This was the first time she had met other Girl Scouts who had the same passion and level of expertise when it came to horses.

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“I was little worried it would be like all the other camps for beginners. They were really great about catering it to everybody’s level,” Kellie explained.

The girls were divided into groups for the week, but each group interacted with each other during riding times.

“It was nice to have other girls there who could relate to things about horses! We could have conversations about horses and showing [them] that made sense to each other,” Kellie said.

While there aren’t many things that Kellie hasn’t done with horses, she did have an equestrian “first” while on her destination, she went on a horseback riding overnight!

One evening they packed overnight bags and saddled up their horses for a 2 hour ride out from camp. Her group set up a campsite for the night, tied their horses up in a pasture and they slept under the stars!  The next morning they made breakfast and rode the two hours back to camp!

Throughout the week Kellie got to ride and continue practicing her skills. One of her favorite things was seeing other girls, those who don’t have as much equestrian experience as her, work on their own horseback riding skills.

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“It was cool to get to see girls enjoying [their first] trail ride and mounting back up from the ground!”

At the end of the week Kellie found herself talking to the staff about returning next year and the possibility of her participating in a Wrangler in Training program!

After such a rewarding experience, Kellie hopes to see more girls travel and explore through Girl Scout destinations.

“Be yourself and talk about the things you like. People aren’t going to judge you there, it’s safe.”

The first round of applications for the destination program are due by November 15! There are over 35 domestic and international travel opportunities for Girl Scouts who are looking to expand their horizons, try something new, or learn more about something they’re already passionate about! See the full list!